Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

February 11, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Olive oil cake at its best has a crackling crust and an aromatic oil-rich middle, which, if it held any more moisture, would be pudding. Pulling this off should be easy—there aren't even egg whites to whip and fold, or butter to cream—but it isn't always. This one, however, is perfect, and will ruin you for all others. Recipe from Maialino Restaurant in New York City, where they also serve it at breakfast in muffin form, and they've been known to turn it into a birthday cake, layered with mascarpone buttercream. The recipe is pictured here with Michelle Polzine's Slow-Roasted Strawberries from the forthcoming Genius Desserts cookbook (Ten Speed Press, September 2018).Genius Recipes

Makes: a 9-inch round cake
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hrs


  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (350g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups (285g) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (305g) whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup (60g) fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (55g) Grand Marnier
In This Recipe


  1. Heat the oven to 350° F. Oil, butter, or spray a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. (If your cake pan is less than 2 inches deep, divide between 2 pans and start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.)
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest and juice and Grand Marnier. Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.

More Great Recipes:
Cake|Italian|American|Olive Oil|Fruit|Grand Marnier|Milk/Cream|Serves a Crowd|Make Ahead|Christmas|Fall|Father's Day

Reviews (422) Questions (19)

422 Reviews

Summer +. March 21, 2019
I have made this cake about 6 times, because my family keeps requesting it for everything from apres family dinner to birthday cake. It's a huge hit around here and I'm always happy to make it because it's SO easy and really doesn't take very long. The last time I made it was the first time I experienced an overly moist center like others have posted below. I think it's really dependent on your flour, how old it is and how you measure it.. I'll be making it again tonight!
Ikue T. February 21, 2019
Based on the reviews and the fact this being an olive oil cake, (I usually love olive oil cakes!) I was excited to make this cake. However, it was disappointing. I don't like the squishy texture of the interior. It is almost too moist. I also couldn't really taste grand marnier. Sadly I think I will stick to my other olive oil cake recipe.
Leslie V. February 22, 2019
Marques February 20, 2019
Wonderful crumb and great flavor, for such a simple recipe. I found the center to be a bit sodden, so recommend slightly less oil or to let it bake longer.
joanna February 17, 2019
I just made this cake last night with fabulous results. Everyone loved it. I was concerned about the amount of sugar (350 g is a lot for me!) So I dialed it back to 175 g and it was perfectly sweet for me and my friends. Also, I reduced the olive oil to just one cup. It worked perfect. I used an orange flavored Armagnac for the liqueur (that's what I had). Love the crunchy exterior of this cake! I served it with whipped creme fraiche sweetened very lightly with maple syrup and pure vanilla. Served with orange, blood orange and grapefruit supremed (cut into segments). I mixed the wet ingredients with a whisk very thoroughly and had no issues with separation.
Iman B. February 7, 2019
really really good recipe! switched orange zest and juice and for lemon! also did not add the grand marnier.
liz O. February 5, 2019
Does any old extra virgin work or do you recommend one?
Cook February 5, 2019
Suggest picking one you like the taste of... they all taste somewhat different.
Some are more "olivey" others are lighter and fruitier tasting. I think that's why they recommend the extra-virgin. I've done some taste testing in the past, and found that (unfortunately) the notice of farm sourcing on the bottle can cost extra money - but sometimes leads to the best flavors.

Also - if you like it in a salad dressing, you'll likely enjoy it in this cake. :)
liz O. February 5, 2019
Victoria A. February 5, 2019
I make this cake allll the time! I love it especially for breakfast. I replace half of the flour with cornmeal- gives it a nice crunch. Mine has never been "greasy", but it is an olive oil cake, so it's meant to be extra moist. Whenever I bring them out of the oven I tip them out onto a cooling rack for a while and then flip them back over the other way, so maybe that helps with oil pooling in the bottom. Don't skip the orange juice and zest. I also use Triple Sec instead of GM because it's way cheaper. This one of my favorite go-to's from Food52. Everytime I make it for other people it gets rave reviews.
Francesca S. January 28, 2019
This looks like a fabulous dessert... do you think it’s fancy enough for a Valentines offering? Of course with those beautiful roasted strawberries and lovely whip cream? I appreciate your input Kristen💜
Laurence T. January 28, 2019
Oh my goodness yes! Its simple yet complex....beautiful....just like love. And isnt that the whole point of Valentines Day?
Francesca S. January 28, 2019
Thank you for your reply… This seems like a very Italian approach to the desert… I think this is a must have for our dessert tray at work💜
Kristen M. January 31, 2019
Yes, I agree that this will be a happy dessert anytime you want to serve it, and there are tons of great ideas for dressing it up in this comments thread—I've loved seeing how people get creative with it!
Cook February 6, 2019
It is indeed the most beautiful, and delicious..... with a caveat....
Something I have noticed when serving this to others: Despite the fact that it's completely drool-worthy to me... it might not be to everyone.
I have several family members who feel the oily texture is not as 'pudding like' as I feel it is. And they're not fond of the distinct orange flavor.
I've added chocolate chips as an attempt to lure them over to the Orange side
- which I also liked, but again - the combo is pretty distinctly different than most folks might like, and it did not receive rave reviews. Which it SHOULD have.

Suggest making cupcakes on a taste test trial first. That way you're not disappointed.
Marissa S. January 20, 2019
This cake is awesome. It's extremely moist and mildly citrusy with a lot of citrus fragrance. I usually don't like citrus in my baked goods but thought this cake was the perfect amount.

Per comments below, I reduced the oil to 1 cup and reduced the sugar to 300 grams.

Also, I pre-heated the pan in the oven for ~5-7 minutes before I combined the wets and drys so that the outside of the cake would form a nice crust.

To serve, I spooned a little bit of Michelle Polzine's slow roasted strawberries on top of a plated slice and put a dallop of fresh whipped cream to top it all off. The combination is marvelous.
Jaye B. January 5, 2019
I've never made - or eaten - an olive oil cake. I have 4 EVOOs plus a light olive oil. Is there a preference for this recipe to have a more peppery, or greener, or milder olive oil flavor? I'm not sure if there should be a distinctive olive oil taste or does it bake away regardless of which variety is used?
A G. January 5, 2019
The variety of olive oil DOES make a difference in the final results. I like the strong olive oil taste when I use a stronger and more distinct variety but I know not everyone does. However, a cake made with just light olive oil doesn’t have a very pleasing taste, in my opinion. I usually put 1 cup of a light/mild olive oil and the remaining 1/3 cup of a stronger olive oil. You could always adjust the ratios if desired.
Jaye B. January 5, 2019
AG - thank you for your reply. Just curious, and as a point of reference, do you consider a Taggiasca olive oil - if you're familiar with it - a stronger or more mellow flavor? Everyone's palate is so different. :)
Taylor S. January 2, 2019
Incredible. Yes, it is oily but I definitely wouldn't call it "greasy." The orange zest and juice really make this top notch. I baked mine in a loaf pan since I don't have a round cake pan and it came out a little dense on the bottom (but delicious nonetheless)!
Cook December 7, 2018
Love love love this cake... but I have a need to freeze some... has anybody done that? Does it impact the texture or flavor???
Eunji December 6, 2018
I have used an almost identical recipe (David Leibovitz) but this one calls for the OJ/GM and the cake has turned out completely wet and greasy.
WinterGal December 6, 2018
not sure what didn’t work for you. i’ve made this cake more than a dozen times with fabulous results. only i use limoncello and lemon juice. check the size of your cake pan and make sure you bake long enough. the golden color is not “burned” color. perhaps check your oven temp as well. good luck
Eunji December 6, 2018
Interesting though that a lot of the comments say they got greasy also. I’ll stick with the original recipe I’ve been using. Thank you!
Reshma A. December 2, 2018
I followed the recipe exactly but my entire cake cracked on top and it looks incredible greasy! I'm terrified to serve it. I'm thinking of doing it over but reducing the oil. Thoughts?
Melissa G. December 2, 2018
You can make a simple glaze out of vanilla or orange flavoring, powdered sugar and a teaspoon of milk. Just mix it to a running consistency and drizzle over! It's a very moist cake, and if you followed the recipe exactly it should taste fantastic! Good luck!
Yabbadoo December 2, 2018
It may be the oven is too hot.

Try whisking the oil with egg yolks first, it will emulsify the oil so it doesn't separate. I mix all wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately and then mix together. I made cup cakes and they turned out perfect.
cheftekar October 12, 2018
WOOW!!!!!!! This is literally the easiest and most brainless recipe one could ask for and it’s A M A Z I N G!!!!!!!! If you don’t have gran marnier, just add extra OJ.
g September 30, 2018
Am i missing something? 1 3/4 cups sugar is not 350g, 1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil is not 285g and nor is
1 1/4 cups whole milk equal to 305g......
Kristen M. September 30, 2018
Hi g, while these amounts might be very slightly off due to rounding and whatever measuring cups you're using to compare (they can vary a good deal, which is why many bakers prefer to rely on grams), they should be very close and the recipe should work well with either the grams or volumes used. What discrepancies are you seeing?
g October 1, 2018
Hi, the grams seem to be double of the cup measurements......
Kristen M. October 6, 2018
Hm, I don't think that could be true—have you checked your scale's calibration lately? A good way to do it is that 1 cup of water should weigh very close to 236.59 grams.
SwingPuck February 6, 2019
Actually, 1 3/4 cups of sugar is exactly 350g as one cup of sugar is exactly 200g. 1 1/4 cups of milk should be 300g as one cup should be 240g (or close enough). One cup of oil is 218g so 1 1/3 cups should be pretty close to 290g. They're hardly out by much...
maryO September 16, 2018
Note to self: to make gluten free: replace flour with 1 1/2 cups King Arthur gluten free flour, 1 cup almond flour. Use only 3/4 c of olive oil mixed first with eggs. Frost with marscapone frosting (4T butter, 3c 10x sugar, OJ, 8 oz marscapone). Serve with berries.
Lynn M. September 12, 2018
Can you make this recipe with coconut or almond flour? Also can you use swerve sugar? I’ve made this cake the regular way and it was amazing. I just want to try it this way for my low carb friends. Thank you
maggiesara October 27, 2018
In my experience, almond flour and coconut flour do not sub one-for-one with regular flour, assuming no other changes to the recipe. Among other things, almond flour tends to bake up very dense, making for flat cakes with a somewhat gummy texture. You'd be better off looking at a tested low-carb recipe and modifying the flavors to fit your taste.
Monica B. September 11, 2018
I made this version a few days ago. My usual version uses 1 cup oil and 1 cup buttermilk. I think this recipe could use a reduction in the oil for sure. It was just slightly too greasy and an oily layer formed on the bottom.
Jacquie September 4, 2018
Just made this for a dinner party. Rave reviews